Parents fear for children's job prospects

Survey finds that parents’ main concern is that their children should leave school with a flexible set of skills

Mark Smulian

'I changed how I teach after becoming a dad'

Parents think their children have a worse chance of getting a good job than previous generations, despite being better educated.

Research by education firm Pearson found that 50 per cent of parents thought their children would find it tougher to get a job than had been the case when they were themselves young.

However, almost as many (43 per cent) felt that their children were getting a better educational experience than their own.

Half of parents were concerned that their children were not being equipped with the right skills for future employment, and 46 per cent said that their child had a more difficult decision to make about post-16 education than they had themselves.

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Parents’ main concern was that their children should leave school with a flexible set of skills – rather than a single specialty – with readiness for work ranked as the most important attribute, mentioned by 84 per cent of respondents, one percentage point ahead of literacy, and with digital and IT skills at 79 per cent.

Pearson said the emphasis on aptitude and readiness for work matched the findings of the CBI’s education and skills report in November, which asked about what mattered most to businesses when hiring new recruits.

That survey found that 49 per cent of people aged 17-23 thought their education had not prepared them adequately for the world of work.

Parents also told Pearson that they were unclear on how to advise their children on educational options as they got older, with 37 per cent saying they were unaware that a BTEC qualification could be used to enter university, even though 25 per cent of entrants in 2017 had this qualification.

Rod Bristow, president of Pearson in the UK, said: “In this time of unprecedented technological and political change, it is understandable that parents are concerned about the implications that changing employer needs will have on their children.  

“Having listened to both parents and employers, we believe the 16-to-19 phase should offer young people a clear range of options, allowing them to follow a purely academic curriculum (A levels), a broad career-focused route (applied generals) and more specialised options that allow students to prepare for a particular occupation (T levels/apprenticeships).”

YouGov surveyed 2,000 parents with children aged 13-19 on behalf of Pearson.

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